After a week at SXSW Interactive 2017, it’s my first and last.
SXSW seems like the place to be seen rather than be educated and inspired.
Parties are awesome, music is fantastic, and movies are movies so I’m sure it’s a fun break as a music festival, but
I experienced SXSW as a huge self-promotional event to be seen at vs. a platform for inspiring and learning.
My focus is on technology, startups, and innovation, and I travel to educate myself, do business and build relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, SXSW was fun, and fun is good, but I found the focus of the events and sessions I attended light on content and heavy on famous personalities.
The best value of the week
- Kimball Musk is impressive in his quest to bring real food to the mass market at a close-to-fast-food price point. He discussed the strategy, execution and challenge. I hope he succeeds.
- The Andreessen Horowitz event where I met nine amazing people in 2 hours and have some good, actionable outcomes. This is A-level hustling in a shark tank filled with pros. An awesome experience.
Up there with a16z was Stephen Wolfram demo’ing the Wolfram language to make AI accessible to more people. This was really impressive training a quick AI on stage in realtime. Brave!
The queues are painful. What’s the point of paying a few thousand dollars for a ticket when you have to wait for hours to see anyone, while missing the opportunity to see someone else speak. I know ‘that’s how it is at SXSW’, but its not ok. I’d rather pay more and get into what I’d like to attend.
The CES difference
CES is different. Loads of quality deep dives by experts doing the doing with insight into the future vs companies pimping their wares at SXSW. As an example, at the last CES, we arrived before the exhibition and attended some quality discussions on the future of Voice by the Amazon Echo team and the CEO of Fitbit discussing the wearables landscape in detail.
If you’re a technology company looking to the future, or an entrepreneur building the next big thing, I‘d spend my money on CES over SXSW to get the most value for your investment.